New AFA Center–trails and TOPS.

There are questions about the proposed new Visitors Center at the Air Force Academy.  Will it close or alter the Santa Fe Trail in any way? We’ve been told the answer is no. The existing parking lot/trailhead off Northgate will see changes but the trail alignment will remain the same. A positive outcome is that the TOPS program will benefit from the new Visitor Center. The Urban Renewal Authority estimates that TOPS will receive $300,000 over the next 25 years as a result of retail sales at the new Center.
Others have asked how that property qualified as “blighted.” We asked that question of Jariah Walker, Executive Director of the Colorado Springs Urban Renewal Authority.
He explained that the URA is governed by state laws. An independent consultant studied the proposal and determined that the project met 7 of 11 conditions of blight based on the state’s definition. Topography and title challenges were included on that list. The rules are, with just one owner involved (AFA), only one condition is required to qualify under URA. Both the URA committee and Colorado Springs City Council looked at the consultant’s conclusions, and after prolonged discussion, agreed to the proposal.
See the project website, including links to the referenced report, at this link.

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